Ngawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 6: Songpan To Zoigê Grassland

After one third of the journey, I discovered that I was able to buy a ticket, make a reservation, ask for directions, order food, etc. with my improving Chinese.

Though the bus departed at 10:00AM, it reached Zoigê Grassland aka Ruoergai Marsh at 12:30PM. As I was at a higher place than Songpan, I saw no trees, only grass, goats, yaks, and tents which reminded me of Tagong Grassland in the Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

I thought I would be here at 2PM. Luckily, I had enough time to find out the bus to Langmusi at 2:30PM also passed Huahu/Flower Lake. So I bought the ticket for 21 yuans (26 and we could go to Langmusi).

A woman took us to their hotel. 4 of us shared the 2 bedrooms in a room. I didn’t feel at ease but I hope I could sleep tonight.

I then found a big restaurant where many people was having lunch. I decided for a bowl of beef noodles. Hmmm, too much noodles and too little beef. Too salty as well.

We strolled around the bus station as we waited for the bus. Zoigê had something that reminded me of Kangding, maybe because it wasn’t as dull as I had thought. It had so many uptown-like stores. Maybe I was the first Vietnamese to have been to this town.

It took us 45 mins on the bus to be at the so-called Ruoergai Wetland National Nature Reserve. Because it was rather late, I was worried of the bus going back, I asked some travelers to find out how much time needed for this place. It took me 2 hours instead of 1 like they said.

It was so cold and windy here (8-9 degrees celsius) despite sunshine, with not many flowers to see. If I were here in late July (as my initial plan), flowers would be in full bloom. However, I’d never seen so many gesanghua in the wild like in here.

When I was walking and waiting at the gate, I found out there was no bus back to Ruoergai. The taxi driver from Langmusi didn’t accept the bus fare. We went back to Ruoergai with 100 yuans (25 each). From what the driver said, I guessed Langmusi was not so far away.

Finally, I had a normal rice meal with eggs and tomato soup which cost me only 5 yuans in a Ruoergai restaurant.

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The Highest Place I’ve Ever Been To

A moutain top of the Tagong Grasslands (Sichuan, China) is the highest place I’ve ever been to. Tagong alititude is from 3,700m which is higher than the Fansipan peak of Vietnam. Alex said that there were no trees at this height, only grass.

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Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 10: Garzê Hiking

We climbed a mountain across a river from 8 AM to 4 PM. We started very early when there were clouds over them, but when we reached the top, it was all sunny. My big toes didn’t hurt me much like the hike in Kangding. My feet surely preferred walking on the grass to on the rocks.

Was it the first time I crossed a hanging bridge? Alex wrote about it, “When a way begins that way, it can’t be bad ! The flow of the river was very strong, and the bridge was moving a bit under the steps”.

The sky was clear. The sun shined directly on us. I got sunburned on my hands where they were exposed to the sun. Alex’s neck was so red. We spent about half an hour on the top of the mountain chatting. I didn’t really wanna go down at all. Why was life made of choices? I was thinking hard almost every hour that I could live here in Sichuan forever and didn’t wanna come back to Vietnam. I preferred Ganzi than the Tagong Grassland.

Alex was very nice today, letting me walk slowly without rushing me. Each of us had 2 ice creams on the way back. I was breathing in ice and breathing out cream to encourage myself that the way wasn’t so long.

On the way back, we met a group of Tibetan women. They must be peasants. They were resting on a carpet or something like that and invited us to have some tea. As usual, they thought I was Chinese, but I explained that I came from Vietnam. They probably didn’t know where Vietnam was. I tried to talk to them in Chinese. Must have been the day when I spoke so many Chinese sentences.

We also met Gal on the way back. The Israeli guy said tomorrow he would go to Litang.

Had dinner by Alex’s random choice like he did in Danba. But the food today wasn’t that good. It was too spicy for me.

Ganzi had a lot of barbecued carts on the sidewalks. We had beer with some barbecued food in front of a house. I liked it. I saw some Western backpackers copying us.

I heard fireworks again. Unluckily, there were no stars in the sky at night.

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Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 8: Zhonglu Tibetan Village

As the hotel owner told us to go to the Zhonglu Tibetan Village at 8 AM, we went downstairs on time. However, we had to wait for 1 hour for an Aussie couple.

The Aussie couple were old, but they were nice. They talked to us a lot, about their trips to Eastern Europe and Mongolia, and many things else. Alex even talked to them about his robot work and scientific research.

I liked the hike today a lot. The sky was clear. It was sunny. I preferred the sun to the clouds. I envied the Aussie woman who told me she moved out of London at 21 and traveled a lot. I wish I could travel that much.

We got back to Danba around 1:30 PM then went to see what I thought the famous Suopo Watchtowers. Didn’t cross a dangerous bridge because it was unlikely that we could climb those watchtowers. We talked to a young Austrian couple on the way back to the hotel.

On the road to the downtown in the evening, a Chinese guy came talking to me in English. He said he was traveling from Hunan and was studying architecture. A nice guy indeed. He also showed me where to buy a mosquito racket. Actually, I didn’t intend to buy any. Just wanted to show Alex how it looked like.

Met a Western guy who speaks Chinese at the hotel lobby. I told Alex, “I so love him,” and Alex said he could speak Vietnamese very well, too. The Western guy helped us with info of where to stay in Ganzi. He said he was married and living in the north of Beijing. His wife is Chinese. Alex joked, “I want his wife.”

I missed the fireworks due to my shower. Then Alex told me it might be fireworks from a wedding or so.

Though the hotel was modern, Danba was a nice mixture of Chinese and Tibetan. I loved life here very much. I didn’t wanna go to anywhere else or go back home. Maybe after a wild and rainy Tagong, Danba made me feel a lot better.

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Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 7: Tagong Grassland To Danba

We got up very early, then packed up and went downstairs. At 9 or so, we checked out. At 10 AM, we went out to find a bus or minivan to Ganzi. There was none. Even though it rained, many people didn’t leave Tagong. Maybe they all headed to the horse festival somewhere.

So we changed our plan to go to Danba instead. Cost us a lil bit too much. We waited until 1 PM for the minivan to Danba to start. And then they moved us to another bus. Damn! The road to Bamei was awful, but fun. I met a Vietnamese Chinese there. He was trying to talk to us, but unluckily, we didn’t understand.

The road to Danba from Bamei was awesome. There was no tunnel but it was cool. I liked roads where one side was a mountain and the other was a river.

We ate noodles for dinner. I had to signal for the cook not to put chili into my bowl. Alex liked the kind of noodles there. I, on the contrary, didn’t.

Back to the hotel, we watched Jet Li’s movie on the TV. We only saw the ending part which featured some fighting between Jet Li and others.

P.s.: Danba’s altitude is said to be from 2,000m.

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